Two years ago, I attended my first Magazines Ireland Publishing 360 event. It was a room full of barely suppressed anxiety as publishers listened to presentations by experts waxing lyrical about the death of print magazines and the rise of digital magazines.
What a difference 730 days can make.
This past Wednesday, I sat in the same auditorium and listened to different experts say that not only had digital magazines failed to kill their print counterparts, they had failed to be anything other than a herd of white elephants.
In spite of this, there was a heavy digital focus at the event. Rhona Murphy of The Daily Beast and Adrian Acosta of TheJournal.ie spoke of having digital only mediums, although both of these are more focused on news rather than competing directly with magazines. They spoke of having the news in bite size pieces that people could link to on Facebook and Twitter, of having the right amount of advertising on a website so the reader doesn’t get annoyed. Adrian Acosta then gave a very direct answer when asked if TheJournal.ie was profitable. “No”. So, umm, good luck with that. At least they’re on track, he said later.
Stephan Quinn of Vogue spoke of how Vogue is using a combination of print and digital to increase overall circulation and revenue. For him, it isn’t about print versus digital; it’s about digital complimenting print. The website focuses on the daily aspect of the fashion industry, while Vogue magazine still has the title as the monthly fashion bible with its expensive print ads and double-page spreads of the latest fashion on display on the Paris, London and New York catwalks.
The lifetime achievement award was presented to Norah Casey, someone else who seems determined to pack every waking moment with a passion for work. She was very elegant in her acceptance speech and spoke of her love for the printed magazine, saying to the assembled print publishers that they are still lucky people are prepared to put money on a counter and buy a beautiful magazine. Digital, she continued, may be for other things such as newspapers (and here everyone bowed their heads and said a silent prayer) but it is not for magazines.
And you know what; I have to agree with her.
Digital magazines have not taken off in the manner the experts predicted they would when the Apple iPad was launched. Consumers have not (completely) abandoned the newsstand for their tablet computers. There are reasons for this. Size being an interesting one; squashing an A4 size magazine down to the A5 screen of a tablet (don’t even mention the screen size of a phone). Having to pinch and zoom to read an article. The higher value placed on printed advertising versus advertising in digital.
But ask a publisher why digital magazines have not taken off and they will use a single word; “experience”. For them and, as it turns out, for their readers, it’s about the experience of reading a magazine. The feel of the glossy paper, the smell of the ink, the large double-page spreads. Sitting with a cup of coffee and reading your favourite fashion bible. This is the experience they talk of.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this. So, some months ago we started developing the “dynamic magazine” version of FolioFourOne. It’s a cross between a magazine and a blog. It’s intended to bring to digital the beautiful medium that Norah Casey spoke of combined with the craving for real time information that today’s Internet culture demands.
We’re currently in closed alpha testing right now and are intending to roll it out later this year. It’s something new for publishers, with the focus not on cannibalising print with digital, but for the two to complement each other, increasing circulation and revenue. It won’t use the standard web-based advertisement; that tiny box off to the side that everyone ignores anyway. Instead the adverts will be more like their printed counterparts with our In-Magazine Retailing™ functionality adding that “See it. Want it. Buy it.” capability to both adverts and product editorials.
The biggest mistake made in the last few years was believing that digital magazines could replace print magazines. In reality, it has been about finding the bridge between the two. FolioFourOne is that bridge. We hope you can join us.
For more information on our dynamic magazine, contact us using the contact form. We’d love to hear from you.